Sunday, April 27, 2008

Teaching Self-Control

Teaching Self-Control

All of the techniques for teaching self-control to any child apply also to the child with control issues; but they take longer. They also require more consistency and very clear expectations.

In the Montessori system of teaching self-control, there are six components.

+ Structure. There must be a structure appropriate to the age-level of the students in the class, with freedoms and limits clearly defined. These include use of the prepared environment and "rules of the room" (all based on consideration of others).

+ Imitation. The teacher is an example. She must follow the room rules and use the manners she teaches to the students.

+ Direct Teaching. Part of the curriculum of these "grace and courtesy" lessons.

+ Work. Through meaningful, satisfying work, the student is occupied in challenging endeavors and time is spent in a positive way. The time for negative behavior or the need to use it is lessened or gone. The student becomes "normalized."

+ Independence. The teacher never does anything for a student he can do for himself. She fosters independence, which enhances a student's self-concept. She allows students to settle their own differences if they can, and helps them if they need her guidance.

+ Correction is Specific. If a student abuses materials in the class, he is shown how to use them appropriately. Why we care for our materials is explained. If he continues to abuse the material, he is calmly told he may not use it unless he can do so appropriately. Another example is running: go back and walk.

A few ideas to ponder. 

On another note, I have often stumbled across this site and liked this photo... I should make these colour cards for L.

Buy printer ink Amber :)

A little bit of this & that

I'm surfing around 'blog-land' a lot at the moment .... there are some great sites out there. Right now I'm reading from Write,Mama,Write, and connected with this quote:
Somewhere a thought trips along: the things you find especially annoying and trying are the things within you too.
Talking about disequilibrium & in a comment, this:
1. Disequilibrium is a sign of new learning (both for you and for them).
2. When they drive you the craziest, that is when they need you the most.
Now, looking at cool ideas for letter recognition, using the sandpaper letters. Which - of course - we don't have, but I'm sure we can improvise!... this one from NAMC and this ones from FreeFall.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Gyoto Monks of Tibet

Hug & I went to do art activities with the Gyoto Monks Of Tibet today at the Buddha Bar. We sat on the floor with cushions and papers & scissors...and a few monks! It was pretty wonderful. They taught us how to make paper flowers & cut paper patterns. After, Hug and I shared an icecream at Main Beach, sitting in the sunshine on the rocks. It was glorious. My big boy and me.

I have been a less-than-perfect mama the past few days as far as I'm concerned. This ongoing cold has really been getting me down... must go & have another early night.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Anzac day

ANZAC day today. T is working over this weekend to finish "NYC" so we are doing our own thing. We went down to Byron with the plan of going to Watego's but the sunshine ended up slipping away & we saw the parade instead which the boys particularly like - Hug mostly of course :)

After lunch Hug played 'Vermi' the wormy recycling game on the web.. Did I forget to mention that i slept for an hour and a half?! Later I spoke to B for an hour which was lovely. Finally, after T finished working we all got out and got our hands dirty in the backyard - or clean - as Hug helped me to wash the car and Lovely helped T to wash Bossy. What a team!

Here are some photos from the last few days... L picking lemons / the big cubby house clean up of 2008 / and now there is space to play!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

My morning walk

The sun is shining! Yippee!

It's a glorious morning here and L and I got out early to walk and enjoy and photograph it in all its glory. Mama came over with her sisters after I dropped H to school, and now L is sleeping, I have been surfing around some great creative sites (like soulemama) and now T and are about to finish up for lunch on the front verandah together. In the sunshine :)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Library Mouse

This book is a big hit at the moment in our house. We borrowed it from the library :)

T and Hug plan to make their own book.

Continent box swap

Some more exciting news is that I started sending out my AUSTRALIA stuff! Yippee. I am so thrilled. C from Florida has emailed pix and files of her things for ANTARCTICA / ASIA which look brilliant.

Big catch-up

Where did the past 12 days go?!?
Well, here we are - still in the land of snot & sniffles. Urk! At least my ears are clear now :) Actually I think Hug is pretty good and I am definitely on the mend (with a little way to go...) as is L. T seems to have escaped it which is lovely - must be his strong composition after Bali!

When I last posted I was thinking about the school options and that was followed by the *usual* rollercoaster of plans / thoughts / changes :) Hug needs move creative input / output was a big theme... but then things shifted (as they always do) & it became clear that D at BK was really adding a new creative element to his classroom and inspiring some new ideas and approaches and methods. I think he  has responded really well and that it has actually (from my perspective at least) reinvigorated his focus and interest at school. She actually went to the library on the weekend (last) and got out some Modernist books, especially Miro and Mondrian. And I was left feeling that instead of opening new paths Steiner may actually restrict Hug's artist practise and creativity. I also learnt a little more about Reggio Emilia (inspired by this interview) and the concept of helping your child to "communicate with 100 languages" which I really dig. I also thought that focused trips M's studio, and S's too now that I think of it would be good.

Montessori: In regards to the school... well, it certainly was an up and down week and a bit! I was down on it all after our last meeting & *clearly* the feeling was mutual because D left a message later in the week basically bowing out. I called her back - to express my relief! - but only got her machine so didn't get to really talk it through. We were due to meet at D2's that Tuesday so I then called her... only to pick up her vision. Keep moving slowly forward. Try to organise for an event in BB later this year, maybe even a 1 or 2 day indepth introduction to Montessori, that can bring people to our cause. Stop the regular meetings, per say, but keep in contact on phone & just meet when necessary. I kind of liked that idea. I didn't want to completely abandon the idea, but it was feeling a bit overwhelming.

Now, I have been doing my reading for the PEACE course and everytime I read something my heart + mind just say YES. I really believe it's the right option for us. So, I'm back :) I need to call D & see if she made the calls she spoke about & then work towards my next step: putting a concept job application "out there"!

World trip: SO, going back a few steps. There was also the "big trip"conversations! I think as part of our mutual frustrations (me: montessori/school decisions) + T (domestic boredom) decided that we should be heading off on a big adventure with the boys. Ie. leave school decisions + day-to-day responsibilities and boredom behind. We got really juiced, discovered some great family rtw blogs like soultravellers3 and started planing itineraries. But... last night T was working out how much money we would have towards said trip and I was admitting that my enthusiasm had waned. I reeeeally do want to travel, but i guess i'm just not so hot on starting to sacrifice every dollar and every little treat again just as we are *finally* catching back up financially from our fabulous france trip. T has decided that he should continue to focus on expanding his work in an international way - using the connections he already has and seeing what may happen :)

Flylady/organisation: It was very clear to see that we haven't been focusing on the house much this year. We have been consistent with a few of our daily jobs but the weekly stuff/zone work/hotspots etc. wasn't being handled. We needed a major declutter and a big clean up - which we have really got into! I am proud to say that on Sunday we completely salvaged the main bookcase in the living area which was a big problem. Today, I scrubbed down the kitchen bench  /scrubbed out the bath / mopped w our home blessing / washed the couch cover... a big difference. The next step: sorting out the boys clothes shelves *again* ;)

Home improvements: I am finally also getting our bathroom plans under control again. We kind of dropped the ball about a month ago and left ourselves with a big pile of disorganied quotes and papers. It was a nightmare! So, today: Order placed at Reese, toilet order (with soft-close seat (cheeky ;) and a few plans in place. Yippee! We have decided to enjoy this opportunity to make a diffence in our home.

This week I also finished J+J's invitations :)

Wow. That's a lot! Ciao.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Pondering our SCHOOL options

L is lovely & we will go play doctors now :)

Ahhhh, rainy Wednesday. Hug off to BK (it's an A day :) and T to "Movie School" and me & Lovely at home. P is going to come over at lunch time to watch L while I go for a colour touch up. Yippee!

T came home from the 'Kids in Community' awards last night with a huge hamper (Red wine, beer, Macadamia's, Tea. etc) and an actual award & a huge knot of helium balloons! They were VERY popular this morning! He really enjoyed himself I think & it sounds like they lavished him with praise & kindness - Nice.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Peace in ME

Today: Playgroup for L & me / Preesk until 1 for Hug & then D + Daria at our house for a Montessori meeting. T working from home until 4 when he head out to the 'Kids in Community' awards in Lismore where he's presenting some awards & speaking.
Exciting news - his book arrived yesterday!!! A proof-copy arrived in the post yesterday afternoon, I can hardly believe it it's so cool!
I also finished my latest read-through of 'PIM' last night in bed. Man, I think that is such a fantastic book - revolutionary! as I told them. I'm so impressed, it's just brilliant & I really think it's going to do well.

Montessori: Hmmmmm... At the end of the meeting I was left thinking: WE ARE NOT TRYING TO REINVENT THE WHEEL HERE! :)  I guess it seemed kinda tinpot & tricky. It was a bit much, & reallllllly... I just kinda thought "We're not ready for this". We aren't the people to do this. I do appreciate what D said last week about wanting to know that she gave it a good try... & I'm certainly not giving up!

But, sometimes I do entertain the thought (actually, I entertain a lot of random thoughts for too often ;) of loosening myself from the *self-imposed* reigns of Montessori-ism... Just go with the flow a bit more. Spend my energy on growing up my family and *myself* strong + happy + healthy... and take one of the school opportunities that we have & enjoy that. Don't re-invent the wheel! 

I know that I love M + I do hope that there is a time that the boys get to enjoy a M education and I don't want to rule out the possibility of moving elsewhere where we will have M options... 

I guess I feel more than a little overwhelmed!

And, I think I want to enrich Hug's "schooling" with some Steiner creativity. I think he's really like that. And I would too... I love the rainbow coloured card & the felt & the embroidery. It really resonates with me. God, I'm confused & confusing ;) LOL but it's just the truth.

Anyway. Something EXCITING! Hug is becoming really good with his writing + phonetic spelling. Wow! This afternoon he wrote Zac and then his own name of his own accord, and then wanted to write lots more names (which we worked through phonetically). He stills need to have help with the shaping of some of his letters, but it's really starting to fall into place. Very cool. Especially watching him doing it in this *unschooling* kinda way this afternoon - just doing it 'cos he wanted to. He wrote each name & cut it out & drew love hearts & stuck each one on the kitchen cupboard doors. This morning he was drawing in his special blue book & wrote down & then spelt out/said "Sux" all by himself. Too funny - I don't think he'd even ever heard the word before!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Happy Monday!

Well, actually it's rainy & chilly & I have a headache... but it never hurts to be an optimist!

I have enrolled in an online class at USA Montessori called: Peace Education - An Introspective Look at "Maria, Peace and Me" & am really enjoying it. I had a lovely response to my post on PEACE: 

Hi A,
I can be the peace. 
What a powerful statement!! That was awesome, I never stopped to think of it like that. I will now look at things so much more differently. You have given me a new calm, a new peace. All the way from Australia. I never realized the power I have to not only create peace and find peace within but to be the peace. Enjoy the class and thank you so much for your words of wisdom.  S

I have been thinking about things the last few days. About how easily our mind can be distracted from our purpose &  intentions. Like, as a parent... I want to be the best parent I can be. I want to model grace, courtesy, compassions & self-control. But I am not always those things. I want my boys to be influenced by positive role-models, by the great ideas and representatives of PEACE and beauty. But I not only let them be influenced by other things (tv, advertising...) but I have come to realise that I don't actually surround them with much of this positive stuff either - this is why I started reading the Dalai Lama book to Hug (though, we haven't returned to it this week - but we will!). If I want to inspire greatness in my boys, and by that I mean a greatness of spirit & kindness & compassion for the world & all of it's people... including themselves, then they need to be immersed in these things. They need to be high on the priority list. 

Something I read on a Montessori site resonated with me recently: 

As a parent you set the limits

+ Offer protection from objects and ideas that can hurt
+ Always encourage your child to be capable and confident
+ Limit toys and games to a workable number (rotate toys)
+ Monitor television and other forms of media
+ Develop consistent routines which encourage your child to develop self-control
  (self-control, responsible behaviour and freedom are outcomes, not starting points)

I can make a stand on these things. Hug is almost 5 & I'm still just working this out!! Man, parenting is a big journey :)

So, if we are given a gift or a toy that I don't think is consistent with our ideals then I don't need to feel guilty about not including in our environment. It's so easy sometimes to use tv as a crutch & to justify things you do by thinking about the fact that a lot of parents allow a lot more of this rot into their homes... but that doesn't make it right for me or inline with my intentions.

We had a good weekend - the boys are really developing a great relationship & can often play happily together for extended periods, showing each other a lot of kindness, which we saw a lot of. Of course, we also had our moments but overall there was a lot to be proud of!

On Saturday we did a few gs's, had morning tea at the belongil beach cafe and dropped into Reese before T took Hug to a birthday party. The afternoon was spent at home with T oiling the dining table and Hug playing outside in the rain inspired by Jack's dad the farmer. 
Sunday morning we headed out to Brunswick & the boys all did their thing & I went to a cafe & continued to read "Peace in me". We had lunch at j+j's & I showed them the invitation that I designed for their wedding.
A lovely photo from the Easter weekend in Brisbane :)

P.S. Hug fell asleep listening to me read from the Dalai Lama book we're reading. How sweet.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Catching up

Oooo, it's already Thursday!

T came home on Monday afternoon - ahhhh, lovely to have him back. We were all pleased. He really enjoyed himself & feltrelaxed & refreshed... until bamboozled by our busy home, that is I'm sure! LOL. Actually, the jetlag / time difference caught up with him this morning & he had to take himself back to bed to try & rebalance himself.

Monday: I so didn't get any of that cooking & baking done ;) but I did get the house kinda under control so I was happy with that. The boys were playing together when I arrived at preschool to collect them, which I thought was really lovely.

Tuesday: a busy day - dropping Hug to BK and then making it to playgroup - which was lovely - I'm really enjoying it. I feel so relaxed there... everything slows down. It's nice. And I like E's energy & the respect she shows the children... even the little things like drying each of their fingers separately.

I continued on my embroidery (Lovely's bag) and have brought it home to finish so that I can start one for Hug. I have tried to stitch a bee, which is quiet funny.

After an hour at home to catch up with T, L and I were off again - this time to our 3rd Montessori group meeting. 

Montessori: I had gone feeling a bit unsure of my intentions... did I really want to do it? Was it right for us? Hug? Me? T & I talked briefly before I left & he was frustrated by my uncertainty - "what?! after all this time you're thinking about Steiner & other options again?!" - but moments after I arrived at D's he called on the mobile & told me that he believed in me & that I should believe in me too & that I was doing the right thing. Wow! What a kind thing... I really appreciated his enthusiasm & support (When I got home there was a note too; " You're TOTALLY starting a school. We'll travel around that plan". ) Thank you sweet T.

And then the meeting... I went over some of the things I had been looking at: Parent information / email from Montessori Australia / etc.

+ We clarified that the school would have to start purely with 6 year olds who had preferably had Montessori exposure (or possibly an older child who had already had some Montessori school education)

+ We thought that the offer from MA to come to BB might be a fabulous way to kick off our public information... A well publicised event at the Community Centre for example... maybe if she was headlining we could also get some people from Brisbane... Press (newspapers / tv)... Launching the inaugural BB Montessori Art Prize (& auction)! Now, I'm adding my own brainstorming ;)

+ We decided that we should look into the possibilities for starting a Montessori stream within one of the local public schools.

+ That we should begin to advertise for a teacher (definitely a 6-9, but maybe a 3-6 also?). Putting an add on the MA site & some international sites too even.
Later that night the other D called & said that she still wants to be involved. Good! She also threw some interesting ideas into the mix that would be great to discuss further... starting small; homeschool co-op style. Rent a room somewhere; do some training (maybe have someone come to BB for a long weekend? Although insanely minimal, it's been done with less ;) set up the space with the 3-6 equipment ; & next year run a 5 morning program with a parent acting as directress/ director each day... The thought was that maybe we could get M+M involved which would give us 2 professionally trained teachers actually! Maybe this would work for next year?! We wouldn't actually need to be registered as a school etc. (which we have now officially missed the deadline for) but it would create a frame work for the creation of the 6-9 room the year after.

At the end of the day my enthusiasm was renewed!

Wednesday: Hug at school & T working out of the house. Our first official week like this & think it was good. Lovely and I had a really nice day. The house got properly blessed (dust + vac + mop) & the playroom & shelves got more organised. We had some real fun playing with the little wooden people that I had salvaged from a large basket of mixed up animals etc. & then B rang in the afternoon. I took some photos of my work while I was on the phone to email her.

Thursday: T was up & into his work at 7am, & then back to bed by 8 because he couldn't even think straight, poor darling. We all went out to do the shopping & he called at 10.30 as we were loading up the car to say that he'd just woken up!

Hug: was a great help at the Supermarket, keeping himself calm & helping Lovely. L was obviously tired & a bit ratty at first but once he smooched up he was quiet as a mouse & I thought he was about to fall asleep in the trolley again! Once home & after rest-time Hug got set up on the computer in Text Edit & started to write words... Wow. He wrote his name & then I helped him phonetically spell out his full name & then all on his own he spelt 'cat'! Later, he spelt 'bag' and then 'zac' and said that was one of his friends at school (which it is! of 'zac and ellie' fame) & he decided to print out: "zac cat kangaroo". With my assistance in helping to sound out each sound he typed it all up himself. He also chose to write 'dogs' and 'snake'.

We printed out his words & he practised tracing the letters (I placed dots on the starting points as he is prone to start letters from the bottom at the moment) and then wrote the words out himself & also illustrated a few of them too. Too cute. I showed his what the moveable alphabet looked like  & explained that this work was similar. After a great session, we packed up & he got really involved in cooking lasagna! What a chef.

Lovely: He decided that the step he uses to climb up to the toilet was grubby so I showed him how he could take it outside & wash it with a brush & bucket & towel. He did a great job, followed up with a quick go at a chair & then proceeded to pour bubbly water into Boston's water bowl. Oh well :) He played bat & ball in the yard for a while & then with his wooden people again in the playroom - I think they really captured his sweet imagination.

At 3, T finished to look after the boys & I headed out to buy supplied for J+J's wedding invitations. I think they'll look nice.

Home & we all watched 'Grand Designs' together & then sleep... well, not for me becauuse I straightened my hair & tidied up & now it's 10.36pm & here I am writing my blog. Eeeeek!

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